Pilgrimage Refreshes Souls

Legazpi – To commemorate the feast day of St. Louis Guanella, the Servants of Charity went on a pilgrimage to Naga City October 20th for all who had helped organize “Dinner for a Cause”. This trip was not only for relaxation, but also to discover new places and to go to the source of faith: Basilica Minore, the church dedicated to Our Lady of Penafrancia Patroness of Bicolandia. Even though everyone was tired they were very happy for visiting this church and bringing many of our confidences in prayer before Our Lady. Their hope was renewed and peace deepened in the bottom of their hearts, strengthening them to face the reality of daily life. May our Lady of Penafrancia pray for all of us and bring us to her son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Kumbakonam – Guanella Nagar Parish joyfully celebrated the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary at Jebamalaipuram. This substation has more than 30 Catholic families and is the only church dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary in the Kumbakonam Diocese. The feast began on October 5th with a flag hoisting by Rev. Fr. K. Arockia Samy, Chancellor & Minister. Then he celebrated Holy Mass during which he gave an inspiring homily on Mother Mary and the importance of reciting the Rosary. The celebration continued on October 6th when Fr. Rex Alex Silvester, Vice Rector of Sacred Heart Minor Seminary, Kumbakonam, blessed the car and the faithful prayed the Rosary while processing through the streets of Jebamalaipuram. He also celebrated Mass and preached the homily. On October 7th Fr. Ansel Antony CMF, Superior of Claret Illam, Kumbakonam, celebrated the feast day Mass and addressed current problems of the world in his homily. He also gave two solutions; first it is possible by the Word of God and second by the recitation of the Holy Rosary. Many faithful attended the Holy Mass and the flag was lowered which brought the celebration to an end.

Losing Our Loved Ones

When my father died, I cried, I suffered and I missed him. But soon I moved on, came back to the States and my usual work. But when my mother died I had a different reaction. My mother, lying in a darkened room, was close to death. But as she reached for my hand and looked at me intently, she was fully aware that her youngest son, the one who left her many years ago, was at her side. She was ready to begin her journey home to God. The woman who had given me birth, nurtured me, taught me how to pray and read, was gone. I was fifty-five years old, but I felt orphaned. We may live to old age but we will always be a child in relation to our parents. Seldom, as adults, are we ready for a parent’s death. We may be busy building our careers, raising our families, traveling or seeking to settle down. Whatever the circumstances, it is virtually impossible to prepare ourselves emotionally for the loss.
Ironically, our society shows very little understanding about the unique pain of losing a mother or a father. However, in my heart I felt that I have every reason to grieve. My mother’s death left me with a sense of abandonment and even panic that caught me by surprise.
Well meaning friends and others tried to console me by saying, “Your mother lived a long, full life, she was suffering so much; surely it’s a blessing.” But those phrases ring hollow: my dear mother lies in the casket.
I felt that I had every reason to grieve but I felt the need to move on and get out of the vacuum in which I was caught. Finally, I started to cry and talk with other relatives and friends. I visited the cemetery every day and imagined my mother talking to my father and other relatives. She was in a great place and in good, heavenly company. Calling aloud many times the word “Mom” was remarkably consoling and healing.
But despite our tears and sense of loneliness, we need to move to center stage to leave our mark in the world. But we do not move forward alone. We bring along with us a rich store of treasures from our childhood on; hard lessons learned and principles, fond and painful memories, family celebrations and traditions. We bring who we are, thanks to the love, nurturing and guidance we received in our formative years from the parents whose presence we now miss.
I was never able to assure my mother that I would accompany her on the final leg of her journey home. But as I continue the second half of my life’s journey, I can feel the power of her presence. She is my Mother!

Fr. Louis Guanella: Universal and Intercultural Missionary!!!

How is Fr. Guanella connected with the missions? He never went to any mission country as a missionary does. Since his years in the Como Seminary, he had a soft spot, a strong desire to join PIME, and go to India or China. He even asked his Bishop to have the opportunity to fulfill his dream, but he was denied. “Your India will be here at home”, his Bishop replied. His strong missionary desire was passed on to his Religious, “The whole world is your homeland”. The first mission territory he served was Switzerland, filled with many Protestants, which was just outside of his own native place. There, he sent his priests to take care of the Italian immigrants plus the few native Catholics. A small step, but a step that became a big one when, later on, his Religious crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans to bring Catholic and non-Catholic alike, the message of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd and Good Samaritan, to His creatures in need of faith, hope and love.
Recently his Religious even touched the ‘Solomon Islands’ in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia are now the homeland of a great number of Servants of Charity and Daughters of St. Mary of Providence. They are the fulfillment of Fr. Guanella’s dream, bringing “Bread and the Lord, to those who need them, material bread and spiritual bread.
Was Fr. Guanella a missionary? A resounding “YES” is his presence in 24 nations through his spiritual children, religious and laity. He wrote, “We are Servants of Charity, because the Charity of Jesus Christ has called us. Let us practice with fervor the works of mercy, and we will obtain the mercy of the Lord! The poor are our favored ones. They are our masters. We must work and suffer for them. Is it not what Jesus, the Divine Missionary, has done for us by His mission of Salvation?
As we celebrate 102 years since the heavenly birth of our Holy Founder, let us resolve to re-incarnate his presence, vision and mission contextually. Thus we become a border-crossing person: across cultures, religions, genders, race!

Freedom and Self-Discipline

For the first time in my life, I did not carry any books to read on my journey. There were works to be completed as I was going to visit different communities. On the way back home, I was stuck! So many hours of travel…and no company to talk to, no book to read, no Ipod to listen to! How long to do the self-talk! My mind was driving me crazy…with an uncontrolled flood of unnecessary and wasteful thoughts. I was strongly regretting my decision of not carrying any books to pass the time.
In the meantime, a voice from within whispered, “You are fed up with hearing the sounds…why don’t you listen to the SILENCE for a change? Enough watching the sights and focusing on the invisible SPACE between!” And behold…a new world began to emerge altogether! The deeper I dived, the stronger it pulled me in. My mind had gone blank! And here in this space, I was merging into the heart of the cosmos…no more me-thou, but one! The experience of being complete…being fulfilled…being peaceful…and being filled with bliss! Indeed it was causeless happiness at an experiential level! Here I found ‘the missing rib’…the single solution to all the problems, whatsoever! And then, the rest of the journey was in complete grace!
In the global village which we live in today all distance is set at zero. But at the same time freedom is the main concept we have to understand well. It is the absence of undue restriction and an opportunity to exercise one’s rights and powers. It may refer to freedom of conscience, religion, education, speech and political freedom.
The Emmy Award-winning Hispanic actor, Ricardo Montalban of the last century, affirms the natural affinity between freedom and discipline. He says, “Only through self-discipline can we achieve true freedom”. And he uses the analogy of water and a cup: “pour water into a cup, and you can drink. Without the cup, the water would splash all over. The cup is discipline.” Freedom is not the right to do as a person pleases, but the liberty to do as he ought. Freedom is best when it is reasonably restrained and rationally made use of.
As we celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary’s Assumption, she gives us the message of total liberation through her “Magnificat” both on a personal as well social level. As St. Ambrose once said in referring to this wonderful prayer, “Let Mary’s soul be in us to glorify the Lord; let her spirit be in us that we may rejoice in God our Savior.”
Fr. Soosai Rathinam

Leadersheep: Youth Camp

Manila – The Guanellian Youth Camp 2017 happened in Pavilion Campsite, Banaba Cerca, Indang, Cavite May 29th-June 1st with the theme “Guanellian Youth: Bellwethers of the Flock.” Being compared with a bellwether, a leader sheep, each of the member of the Guanellian Youth Ministry (GYM) is being moulded to be a leader and role model of faith to his/her family, friends and community through good deeds and following the life of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
The participants listened to a series of talks and activities to enhance their leadership skills equipping them with wisdom and knowledge. Bro. Mark Jay Gensis shared that being brave, positive, responsible, accepting opinions and challenges, and believing in your God-given potentials will help you become a happy and productive leader/member. Bro. Harry Indonilla talked about the importance of commitment and how to stay committed in order to keep the faith burning while following our Lord Jesus Christ. Lastly, Ms. Charmaine Ramirez shared that having a good character is an essential part in being a good leader this means that one should be trustworthy, respectful, responsible, fair, caring and a good citizen, this also includes constantly doing the right things and following the golden rule, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Divided into three mini teams named after the Young Three Seers of Fatima, St. Francisco, St. Jacinta and Blessed Lucia, Guanellian youths enjoyed and showed their competitive spirit in different team building activities including the ‘Amazing Race’. Running while blindfolded, crawling through mud, and answering logical questions tested each of the team’s physical and mental capability to work as one.
Aside from physical and mental activities participants did not forget to strengthen their faith through praying the rosary and other devotions that help them endure all unnecessary challenges especially bad weather. The last day was spent swimming at Layu-Layo beach in Nasugbu, Batangas.
GYM would like to thank all the people who supported us financially to make this activity possible.

Listen to One Another

By Fr. Joseph Rinaldo, SdC

A couple of years ago, I was flying from Detroit to Tokyo. I had an aisle sit. Next to me sat a gentleman who appeared to enjoy the sight from the little window. We had a 12 hour trip ahead of us. I tried several times to make conversation and he replied with grunts. When I made a comment, he either ignored me or gave me another groan. I decided to forget him. I said to myself: he will have to go to the rest room and ask me to move. He never did. Perhaps God endowed him with long term organs. We need to stop looking at our cellular phones, and instead really encounter and listen to one another. Beware of bad habits that prevent us, even within our families, from truly listening to others and empathizing with them. We can draw inspiration from the Gospel reading where Jesus brought back from the dead the only son of the widow of Nain. “When the Lord saw her He felt sorry for her. “Do not cry,” He said. Then He went up and put His hand on the bier and He said,” Young man, I tell you to get up.” And the dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him to his mother. Everyone was filled with awe and praised God.” (Lk. 7,13-15). An encounter with Jesus overcomes our indifference.
Often when people meet each other, they think of themselves, they can see the other person but are not looking at him or her; they can hear that person but are not listening to him or her.
An encounter is something different. It is an encounter between a man and a woman, between an only living son and an only son who had died; among a joyful crowd because they had encountered Jesus and were following Him and a group of people, weeping, accompanying that woman, who had come out from the gate of the city; an encounter between the exit gate and the entry gate. An encounter that makes us reflect on our way of interacting with each other. Jesus “was moved with pity.” When Christ observed something unfortunate, He encounters and reacts, never remaining indifferent. If we see something sad, we say ‘what a shame!’ Jesus doesn’t pass by, He is moved with pity. He goes up to the woman for a real encounter and then performs the miracle and, at the same time He restores the dignity of the mother and son.
In this Gospel’s encounter, we not only see His tenderness but also the fruitfulness of that encounter that restores people and things to their proper place.
We are accustomed to a culture of indifference and we must strive and ask for the grace to create a culture of encounter, of a fruitful encounter, of an encounter that restores to each person his or her own dignity as a child of God, the dignity of a living person.
We are accustomed to this indifference, when we see the disasters of this world or small things: ‘What a shame, poor people, look how they are suffering,’ and then we carry on. And if I don’t look, it’s not enough to see, no, we must look. If I don’t stop, if I don’t look, if I don’t touch, if I don’t speak, I cannot have an encounter and I cannot help to build a culture of encounter.
We all are in need of his Word and need that encounter with Him.

In our families, at the dinner table, how many times while eating, we watch the TV or write messages on our cell phones. Each one is indifferent to that encounter. Even within the heart of society, which is the family, there is no encounter. May this help us to strive for this culture of encounter, just as simply as Jesus did so. As Christians we need to look, listen and meet, rather than just see, hear, and pass by. Don’t just say ‘what a shame, poor people,’ but allow ourselves to be moved by pity. Draw near, touch and say in the language that comes to each one of us in that moment, the language of the heart: Do not weep, and donate at the very least a drop of life.
Whether we are Cooperators, Brother Knights or Religious, Jesus loves us and wants a creative relationship with us. And from his fullness we all received grace upon grace.

Traces of God’s Presence and Human Quests and Desires!!

My head was aching, heart was heavy, spirit quite low and there was a spiritual desertification! I felt that I needed a spiritual revitalization and then I went for an annual retreat to research the traces of God’s presence in my consecrated life journey. I thought that this desire would be helpful due to the unfavorable situation around me, negative criticism, unfair and unloving attitudes. A deep despair was setting in… and I knew I could not change this situation. When I attended the retreat and listened to the preacher and spent more hours in silence I got this unexpected surprise! The Lord said, “My son, it’s not the lovelessness, imperfections of others or your non-stop visits causing this pain, you are in pain, you have withdrawn your love from Me and, are focusing on others’ momentous concern, love and friendship. And whenever anyone blocks the free flow of this energy of love they are bound to suffer.” By becoming hard, insensitive, unloving, and judgmental, we harm ourselves and become nervous but often we do not realize this. The master creator has designed us very wisely. In our bodies, there is a system of ‘chemical reward/punishment’ that acts instantly. A single negative thought about someone is enough to generate toxins in our body that manifests itself not only in our emotions, but also on our very countenance!
Since I am on my canonical visitation in Vietnam/Philippines I would like to emphasize the aspect of ‘interculturality’. Today our Congregation is made up of members from many different countries, that is international/multicultural. Now-a-days no one is surprised to hear questions like: present society bets on mono-culture or multicultural? Internationality is not just an accidental happening, related to the numerical composition of the groups and communities, but it is leading people to make valuable choices, being capable of appreciating in them the birth of a very positive missionary attitude, such as: tolerance, openness, receptivity, dialogue, creativity, appreciating of whatever is different in others. As W.H. Auden says “civilization should be measured by the degree of diversity attained and the degree of unity retained.”

In the Month of Flowers

Manila – Flores De Mayo, which means “flowers of May,” was celebrated by the Filipinos throughout the month of May in honor of and gratitude for the Virgin Mary. The Servants of Charity and San Isidro Labrador Parish offered this annual program for the children of Pantanco, San Agustin, Roque and the ‘good children’ from Guanella Center and Guanella Home. The purpose is to emphasize the Catechism and educate them about celebrating the month of May in honor of Mary. For the first time, the San Isidro Labrador Parish conducted a quiz bee which focused on topics in the Bible. All of the children participated. May 26th was the culmination of the Flores De Mayo celebrations, beginning with a question period by the seminarians. They quizzed the children on their knowledge of Flores De Mayo. Prizes were given to those children who were able to answer the questions. A series of presentations given by the children who participated in the Flores De Mayo program brought the month to a close.

Lenten Pilgrimage

Kumbakonam – The priests, sisters and parishioners of Divine Providence Parish went on a pilgrimage during Lent. Early Saturday morning, April 1st, the pilgrims departed in two buses heading for Kalpattu. Upon arrival, they ate breakfast and prayed the Way of the Cross. Mass was celebrated at St. Paul the Hermit’s Church before journeying towards Villianur. At the Immaculate Sister’s Convent, the sisters provided the pilgrims with a meal before going to Our Lady of Lourdes Shrine for personal prayer and the Rosary. The next stop of the spiritual journey was at Sacred Heart Church for an opportunity to purchase Holy articles such as Rosaries, rings and prayer books. Cuddalore Silver Beach was chosen for an evening in nature and a meditative walk. After relaxing at the beach, the pilgrims headed toward home stopping in Meensurutti for tea and vadai. Through the intercession of St. Paul the Hermit and Our Lady of Lourdes, it was a joyful and spiritual experience for all of the pilgrims.